Cuba as a Travel Destination
Having visited Cuba on more than five occasions, I have come to appreciate the wide variety of locales that this island country offers. As a Canadian, I have been able to travel to Cuba since the age of 13, when my family and I visited the area of Santiago, near the majestic Sierra Maestra mountain range in the southwest corner of the island. I have also ventured as far west as Havana and Cienfuegos. In all this time, I have yet to spend a vacation in Cuba that was not relaxing, restful, and replete with natural beauty.
If you plan to travel to Cuba, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. Cuba is unlike any other Caribbean island that you have ever visited before. A five-star resort in Cuba is unlikely to rival any five-star resort you have traveled to in the past. In fact, it may not even approach the equivalent of a three-star on some islands. In addition, the people of Cuba live with very little. This is more noticeable in some areas of the country than others. However, they are warm and friendly folk, and will generally welcome any sort of small gift that you can (discreetly) bring for them.
Where have I traveled, and what were my experiences? Here is just a little peek into some of the Cuban adventures I have been on.
Santiago de Cuba
This was my first port of call in Cuba. At the age of 13, I marveled at the mountain ranges when we flew over the island. I had never seen anything so beautiful, green and lush before in my life. The beaches in this area tend to have black sand and the water is more turbulent, however there are many other enjoyable activities, such as horseback riding, that one can partake in.
It was a full 15 years later that I returned to Cuba, this time on my honeymoon. My husband and I stayed on Playa Esmeralda, near Holguin, on the eastern-most part of the island. The highlight of this vacation was the beautiful white sand beach and calm clear waters for swimming. If you travel to
Holguin, I would highly recommend choosing a resort on this stretch of sand.
After returning to Cuba for my honeymoon, it didn’t take long before my appetite was whet for more adventures. We next chose to visit a resort near Cienfuegos, on the southern part of the island opposite from Havana. This beautiful spot boasted amazing sunsets over the Caribbean sea. The town of Cienfuegos
is also an excellent tourist destination. I highly recommend having lunch at the yacht club if you are there.
My husband and I traveled to Havana mostly by accident, as it was a stopover point between other locales. However, it was an experience not to be missed and one that I would surely repeat. If you do visit Havana, be sure to take a stroll along the Malecon (the boardwalk by the sea).
My husband and I have since visited Cuba again, this time travelling again to Santiago de Cuba, but to a resort situated on cliff. The highlight of this trip was the dramatic position of the hotel high above the water, and the beach cove, nestled a hundred steps or so below, which was a perfect spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Cuba has definitely drawn me in over the years, and I imagine that it would do the same for you. Hopefully the future will be bright for this country in years to come, opening tourism to a wider international audience. As for me, I feel comfortable calling Cuba a second home.